Ivory Coast – Rights and Duties of the Ivoirian Journalist (1992)

Rights and Duties of the Ivoirian Journalist, adopted by representatives of the Ivoirian press in Yamoussoukro in August 1992.

The right to information, to free speech and to criticism is one of the fundamental freedoms of all human beings.

From this right of the public to know all news and views derive all the rights and duties of journalists.

The responsibility of journalists towards the public must prevail over any other responsibility, especially towards their employers and the authorities.

The mission of informing is necessarily bound by limitations set spontaneously by the journalists themselves.

For the rights of journalists to be respected in the exercise of their profession, it is necessary that the material conditions of their independence and dignity be achieved and respected.

Such is the purpose of the present code which lists the rights and duties of journalists.

The duties of a journalist
The fundamental duties of a journalist as he/she seeks, reports and comments on the information supplied to the public, are the following:

Article 1. Respect the facts, whatever the consequences for him/herself, because of the public’s right to know the truth.

Article 2. Publish only information whose origin, truthfulness and accuracy have been checked. If they have not, express the required reservations. Never suppress essential information or adulterate any speech, text or document.

Article 3. Defend, in all places and all circumstances, the freedom of a journalist to inform, comment and criticise, holding as a prime rule to be scrupulous and fair in honestly publishing information.

Article 4. Use no unfair methods to obtain information, photographs or documents – and not confuse his/her role with that of a policeman.

Article 5. Never confuse the job of a journalist with that of an advertiser or propagandist. Accept no instruction, direct or indirect, from advertisers or from elected or appointed officials.

Article 6. Resist any pressure and only accept editorial instructions from editors in the newsroom. Assume full responsibility for all his/her writings.

Article 7. Refuse any compensation in cash or kind for services rendered or expected, whatever the value or source of it. Refrain from using one’s quality as a journalist for personal gain.

Article 8. Never reveal the circumstances in which he/she has learned the facts that are reported, so as to protect the source.

Article 9. Refrain from any breach of social ethics: incitement to tribalism, xenophobia, rebellion or crime; affronts to public decency; vindication of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Article 10. Respect the privacy of people. The right of an individual to protect his/her reputation and integrity must be respected. Avoid publishing information that invades the privacy of anyone.

Article 11. Correct any published information that turns out to be inaccurate.

Article 12. Refrain from plagiarism, slander, libel and unfounded accusations.

Article 13. Never apply for the job of a colleague or cause him/her to be fired by offering to work at lower cost.

Article 14. Only acknowledge the jurisdiction of one’s peers in matters of professional honour.

The rights of journalists
Every journalist must claim the following rights:

Article 1. The protection of his/her sources of information.

Article 2. Free access to all sources of information and the right freely to investigate all the facts that impact on public life. The secrecy of public and private business can be used only exceptionally and for clearly formulated reasons as a barrier to a journalist.

Article 3. Refusal of any orders contrary to the general policy of the company he/she works for; and also of orders from anyone not clearly defined in that policy as empowered to issue any.

By virtue of the “conscience clause”, a journalist cannot be forced to do a professional act or express an opinion that would be contrary to his/her convictions, honour, reputation or moral interests.

In case of conflict linked to the “conscience clause”, a journalist can free him/herself from contractual commitments to his company, under the same conditions and with the same effects as in the case of a normal dismissal.

Article 4. The newsroom staff must absolutely be informed of any important decision likely to affect life in the company. It must at least be consulted before any final decision on a measure concerning the composition of the staff: the hiring, firing, transfer or promotion of journalists.

Article 5. Considering his/her mission and responsibilities, a journalist in entitled, not only to the advantage of collective bargaining, but also to a personal contract that will insure his material and moral security on the job, as well as to a salary corresponding to his social role and sufficient to guarantee his economic independence.

Article 6. Every journalist pledges to observe the rules that have just been decreed. A professional Order of journalists will be in charge of enforcing respect for the present code.

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